The Issue 11 17 May 2012
Destination Unknown: jet-setting across the globe from the UAE
Explore Bangkok’s bustling markets and ancient temples, or if you prefer, escape to Phuket for its crystal waters, white beaches and the dazzling smiles of the locals. Whatever you’re looking for, Thailand has it all and with our great fares and all-inclusive holiday packages there has never been a better time to explore.
3 NIGHT PACKAGES Phuket AED 2,370 per person* Bangkok AED 2,390 per person* Includes flights, transfers, accommodation and breakfast.
Flights also available from just AED 1,999** Book by 31 May. Travel by 15 June.
Flights: 02 599 0000 etihad.com Packages: 800 2324 Or visit your local Etihad shop or travel agent
*Holiday Packages: Travel until 15 June. Terms and conditions apply. Prices are starting prices per person sharing a twin room for 3 nights with breakfast and airport transfers. Prices include return Economy Class nonstop flights on Etihad Airways to Bangkok and on airberlin to Phuket from Abu Dhabi and are inclusive of all applicable taxes. **Flight fares: Outbound travel until 10 June and return by 15 June. The Bangkok fare is valid for Etihad flights EY403/404 only with outbound travel not permitted on Wednesdays & Thursdays. The Phuket flight is operated by airberlin. Fares include taxes and surcharges but exclude service fees. Additional surcharges may apply at the time of booking. All fares are subject to availability.
ANNUAL PASS 2012 NOW AVAILABLE At Hili Fun City, classic and traditional family fun is what we’re all about. Enjoy 31 attractions (28 included in the entrance fee) for all ages, with roller coasters, rides, an amphitheatre for 1,400 people, and beautifully landscaped gardens with picnic and play areas. For more info please call +971 3 784 5542 or visit www.hilifuncity.ae For admission fees, please refer to our website, Wednesdays are reserved for ladies only. Closed on Sundays.
Contents Issue 11
5 7 8
17 May 2012
FEATURE Time traveler – as we grow our travel experiences grow with us
11 Welcome to Toronto!
12 Kerala - a gift from Mother Nature 13 Venture to undiscovered Ibri
14 Geneva - small city, big heart
15 LEBANON - the pearl of the Middle East 16 Stunning STOCKHOLM 18 CALENDAR OF EVENTS MOVIE LISTINGS
20 BARCELONA - City of surprises 22 Fun filled Sharm El Sheikh
Hello again everyone!
Photography by Mohsin Saleem
After a fantastic week back home in Scotland where I saw sun, rain, hail and snow in the space of only six short days, it’s great to be back in the land of permanent sunshine!
New Library in Al Ain Mall
I had a fantastic week at home and was delighted to be there to welcome my new baby niece, Leila Rose MacKenzie, who came into the world in perfect synchronization with my short trip home. Being out of the country got me thinking that summer is right around the corner. Schools are winding down, people have already started planning their yearly vacations and I encountered many a tourist wandering around the streets of Glasgow. This gave us the idea of turning Issue 11 into something a bit different. Instead of our usual columns and features we’ve decided to give the whole magazine a ‘jet-setting’ theme. From Beirut to Sharm El Sheikh, Sweden to Barcelona, we’ve travelled the world bringing you our insight and experiences on an international level. If you’ve still to decide where this summer will take you then read on for some detailed reviews and honest opinions. If you’re already booked and organized then take a look at our business article to establish the best way to sort out your spending money. And, if summer still seems a bit far away for you to be giving it so much thought; just take pleasure in flipping through the pages and enjoying the exquisite pictures on show. Very glad to be back with you all. Happy reading! Hayley Skirka (Editor)
24 Exploring the Eastern Cape 25 Tantalizing TURKEY
27 BUSINESS Sort out your spending money To Contact Us
+971 3 7668111 firstname.lastname@example.org www.thesourceuae.com thesourceuae
Managing Director Mona Hennawi | Editor In Chief Mahra Saeed Al Muhairi Associate Editor Khudayja Saloojee | Senior Graphic Designer Ghulmiyyah Ghulmiyyah Senior Arabic Editor Sami Rashid | Senior Translator Narmeen Al Assad | Translator Hanadi Jamil | Administration Manager Haneen Farid Sales & Advertising Joe Mathew | Distribution Manager Jeff Grigsby Contributing Writers | Rosaline Skirka, Roekshana Saloojee, Catherine Brennan, Asa Smith, Limi Marian Mathews, Farid Nouisser
No part of this publication or content, thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of The Source Magazine, published by Smart Design Publishing, in writing. The Source Magazine and Smart Design Publishing accept no responsibility, however caused, for errors or omissions contained in this publication. Any articles and/or images included in this publication and/or views and opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of The Source Magazine and Smart Design Publishing, and any of its affiliates, but remain solely those of the author(s). Such publications have been included for general reference and the purpose of fair review. Copyright © 2011 by The Source and Smart Design Publishing, and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority have launched library services in Al Ain City via a library opened last week at Al Ain Mall. The library is open to readers of all ages and houses over 30000 books and other sources of information.
Blushing Brides Attend 8th WEDDEX The 8th Al Ain Wedding Show (WEDDEX) took place from 7-12 May, at the Al Ain Convention Center and proved to be a big hit with attendees.Fashion followers and brides-to-be, visited the exhibition which was solely dedicated to wedding paraphernalia.
“My wedding is due in July and I am really excited about it. The show has given me a chance to choose from a variety of products that I can buy for the wedding”, said Shamsa Hamad Al Darmaki, one of the brides to be in attendence at the event.
The event attracted a fleet of top fashion labels, brands, industry leaders and entrepreneurs under one roof, to display their products to a captive audience. Exhibitor attendance was almost 100 more than last year, with participants coming from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi, Lebanon, France, Italy and India.
Khalid Ahmed Khouri, Chairman of Al Bader Exhibition Organizing, said, “WEDDEX is one of our long awaited events… we have meticulously and successfully attracted famous fashion designing homes and expert fashion designers to present the latest trends to the public of Al Ain in the form of a highly organized and specialized event.”
Bridal fashion shows were perhaps the most popular attraction with designers using the catwalk to display their latest gowns, party wear and bridal abayas.
The 8th WEDDEX was possibly the most successful one yet. Last year, a visitorship of 20 to 30000 was recorded and this year’s numbers look set to surpass those figures.
The new library is part of the authority’s National Library efforts to develop facilities throughout the entire Abu Dhabi emirate. With references on a variety of topics including social sciences, languages, general knowledge, literature and arts there is also a dedicated section for children and young people, as well as an Arabic section and an area for perusing foreign magazine and newspapers. This initiative was a response to the public’s longstanding request for a public library in the Al Ain area. According to Gulf News, His Excellency Juma Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Deputy Director General of the National Library, said his organization was simply responding to readers’ needs by establishing new branches in various areas and providing services to all ages and educational levels.
First SCM Dinner Held at UAEU On 9th May the Supply Chain Management (SCM) Club at UAE University in Al Ain hosted a Business Dinner for Professionals & Scholars. The purpose of the dinner was to expose scholars, particularly those of SCM, to professionals and business leaders.
This event was the first of its kind in the country and was enthusiastically received by all guests. Distinguished speakers from top businesses in the UAE gathered to share their experiences and talk to UAEU students about SCM in real life and how
it has a huge impact on the success of any business. The main guests and speakers were His Excellency Mohammed Al Fahim, honorary chairman of Al Fahim group, Mr. Mohsen Al Awadhi, Director of Stakeholder Relations and Operations Development at Dubai World Central, and Mr. Mahmood Al Bastaki, Director at Dubai Trade Dubai World. Other guests included entrepreneurs and significant professionals from the industry.
Lujain Returns Home After almost three weeks in hospital, Loujain Hussain finally returned home to her family last Thursday. Loujain was hospitalized on April 19th after her and a friend accidentally bumped into a Grade 4 boy in the playground of Al Ma’ali International Private School in Abu Dhabi. The boy retaliated, with three others, by kicking and pushing Loujain to the ground. Loujain’s father, Hussain Abdullah, was called and, upon seeing his daughter’s worsening condition, rushed her to hospital where a scan showed she had suffered a brain hemorrhage and she underwent a six-hour surgery which, though successful, forced her into a coma. Although now back home, Loujain is still struggling with involuntary tremors, eyesight and balance problems, and is a shadow of her former bubbly self. Doctors have said the family must “wait and see” if Loujain will go on to make a full recovery.
TES Summit Urges Improved Conditions The inaugural Transformation Education Summit (TES) held at Emirates Palace Hotel, May 7-9, was hosted by Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) in partnership with the Directorate of Education of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD), leading global management consulting firm Booz & Company and the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC). Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of ADEC, the summit centered around the need for relevant education in a rapidly changing global society as world leaders, business advisers and academic speakers shared lessons from their home countries.
Her parents have vowed never to send her back to Al Ma’ali School, instead looking at ways to home school their daughter. ADEC is currently investigating the incident in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Police.
First Public Nuclear Forum The first public forum by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Radiation (FANR) was held on Monday at the Cultural Center of Zayed City in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. The forum aimed to demonstrate open and transparent communication with the public in relation to nuclear matters. It also introduced them to the role of the FANR, as an independent government body, charged with ensuring the safety and security of the UAE’s peaceful nuclear 6
The conference attracted over 150 education specialists from around the world and consisted of keynote speakers, panel talks and brainstorming sessions. Abu Dhabi’s educational system is currently in a phase of intensive transformation and ADEC is keen to share its strategies while learning from others. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, ADEC’s Director General, in his opening speech added “At the transformation summit, we look forward to sharing our experiences with you, our international counterparts, and we are very eager to hear about different education transformations that have been implemented across the globe.” In the first keynote address, Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, devoted a large part of his speech to the Millennium Goal of universal primary education. He advised that a global fund for education should be established with a “single focus for fast-tracking support to where it is most needed, in the same fashion as the global fund for health.” The final day of the summit commenced with a speech from Tarja Halonen, former president of Finland, who urged educators to “bring back ‘the joy of learning’ not only in primary education but also in vocational training.” Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyidden Yaasin also addressed the audience.
Gordon Brown gives his keynote speech at summit
program and the use of radioactive materials. According to Al Khaleej Times, Dr. William D. Travers, Director-General of the authority said, “In carrying out its responsibilities, the FANR puts public communication as a priority and constantly strives to keep its communication channels open. Through the open forum, we will introduce FANR’s role and respond to the public’s questions on FANR responsibilities.”
Man City Clinch League Title
One of the attendees, Mr Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary Educational International, suggested that the conference was only focused on transformation to “meet the demands of globalization” and perhaps overlooked “that it’s also an instrument to ensure social cohesion.” As the summit came to an end, some of the recommendations included continuous teacher training and improved trust between educational stakeholders as well as improving teacher’s pay and offering more prestige for educational positions.
Rangers and the title looked set to go to Alex Ferguson’s red side of Manchester.
Greg Thompson from the UAE makes his break away from the Kazakhstan pack
But City was not out yet. Substitute Edin Dzeko headed in an equalizer in the first minute of injury time. This gave the boys in blue the boost they needed and Serigo Aguero fired the winning shot home just three minutes later, sending the Blues fans into ecstasy. City Manager, Roberto Mancini said “To win like this is incredible, I have never seen a finish like it.” Rangers’s boss, Mark Hughes, congratulated Mancini and his team and warned that this was just the beginning for the Manchester team. “I congratulate City…the new order is here, the City order…and not even Fergie [Manchester United’s boss Alex Ferguson] may be able to hold back the tide.”
Roberto Mancini, City’s Manager, has unleashed the Blue Fury
Manchester City was crowned Premier League Champions on Sunday after narrowly clinching a 3-2 victory over Queen’s Park Rangers in the dying minutes of the game at the Etihad Stadium. The match will go down in history as one of the most exciting moments in premier league history as City trailed behind
Al Ain U15 Celebrate Victory Al Ain’s Under15- football team followed in the footsteps of the city’s senior team by clinching first place in the junior championship. After a stunning 5-1 win over Emirates last weekend, club sports manager, Khalifa Sulaiman, could only praise the dedication and talent of his coaching staff and young players. Sulaiman insisted that the aim of the young squads was “to raise young players to join the first team” and was proud of the progress being made in the coaching
The win will see Abu Dhabi’s link with the English Premiership boosted and Manchester City, under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, benefit financially. His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the President, passed his congratulations to HH Sheikh Mansour, the management and the players of Manchester City on their triumphant victory.
Photo Courtesy Al Ain Club
academy. He paid special thanks to his coaching staff and commended their innovative training methods. This latest win is a double whammy for the Al Ain Club after the seniors grabbed the top spot in the Etisalat pro league last week. Meanwhile, the Under-17 squad could make it a triple celebration if they can grab two wins in their next two fixtures.
Photo Courtesy: UAE Rugby
UAE Rugby Triumph The United Arab Emirates rugby squad won the HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament, held in Dubai last weekend, after defeating Kazakhstan 46 to 31. The dramatic game saw the UAE squad dominate from the start, racking up 29 points to the Kazakhstani’s zero in the first half. Tries by Tim Fletcher, Flanker Brett Williams, full back Imad Reyal and scrum-half Pat Hegarty, as well as three tries and a penalty from fly half Murray Strang, sent the team triumphantly to the changing rooms as the half time whistle blew. Kazakhstan came out fighting in the second half immediately putting themselves on the scoreboard with a try from flanker Nikita Trofimove. They further narrowed the gap to 34-19 with just twenty minutes game time left. A further push by Anton Makarenko brought the visitors closer to an amazing comeback and saw the team gain its first point of the tournament for matching the UAE’s four tries in a match level. The UAE clawed back to increase their lead to 46-24, before Romanov scooted one more over for Kazakhstan just before the final whistle, but it was the home team who were to remain victorious. The victory saw the UAE secure their spot in the 2013 HSBC Asian 5 Nations Tournament.
FEATURE I guess, for me, the first time I think I consciously identified myself as no longer belonging to the ‘backpacker’ culture was when I was travelling to Nepal back in 2010 with a close friend of mine. Unfortunately, this friend didn’t travel very well by bus, and so the 8 hour journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara became her own personal hell. Thankfully, I don’t suffer from travel sickness so was quite content to sit back, take in the stunning scenery and sneak the occasional photograph over my sick friend’s head as the bus slowly meandered up and down the winding hills of Nepal. When we eventually came to a rest stop, my friend high tailed it to the nearest rest room while I went off in search of some bottled refreshments, avoiding the rather questionable looking street stall food. While I was sitting, waiting for my friend to return, I noticed a girl nearby, looking me up and down in what could only be described as a judging manner. She was what I guess you’d describe as a ‘hippie traveler’ (think long hair, tattered clothes and a carefree attitude) and initially I was a little taken aback at the look she gave me. However, looking down at myself, I couldn’t help but smile. I was sitting there, in a dirty rest station in the remote Nepalese mountains, wearing a rather obnoxious Dolce and Gabbana watch, a Tiffany bracelet and perfectly French manicured acrylic nails. I’d taken time that morning to apply my regular Yves Saint Laurent make up and select what I hoped was a suitable, yet stylish, travelling outfit. Ten years earlier, in the same situation, I would probably have looked rather similarly to how she was looking at me, although I would like to think I would not have worn quite such a sneer. I think it was at that precise moment that I had my mini-epiphany and realized that I truly was no longer a ‘backpacker’. I was still however, a travel aficionado and, armed with this self knowledge and the fact that I had followed my own personal travelling journey when I was younger, images of my own adventures began to flash through my mind. Memories of
Overstuffed Backpacks and Breakfast Curries
At what point do you stop backpacking and start vacationing?
By Catherine Brennan
If someone were to ask me what my favorite things in life were, I would probably respond by saying travelling and scuba diving. If I get the opportunity to combine the two, then I am one very happy person!
never be so arrogant to assume that my own personal views can represent travel for everyone, I’d like to hope that perhaps, just maybe, this article will manage to strike a chord with one or two of you.
I have always loved travelling; that sense of adventure and anticipation as you head off into unknown territory to explore pastures new. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have travelled extensively over the past fifteen years or so, experiencing some magical moments that I can’t even begin to encapsulate on paper. What I do hope to achieve here however, is a kind of self reflection of what travelling has represented to me throughout my twenties and now, in my thirties, and how there has been a definite shift in what I have come to like and expect on my worldly adventures. While I would
Some travellers are almost achingly cool, oozing that traveller chic vibe (Hello, people from the Slavic countries) but I was never one of those. I was however in my 20’s a diehard fan of taking off, with only a battered, completely overstuffed backpack for company. I am ashamed to say that this over packing trait still remains except these days, I have substituted my battered old backpack for a wheelie suitcase and some very cute, carry-on hand luggage complete with the requisite over-sized sunglasses. But when did this shift happen? When did I stop being a backpacker?
sitting in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon on Security Day, with machine guns being fired in the air all around me. Diving with Bull Sharks in South Africa, taking the jungle train across Malaysia, walking over the border into Thailand, cliff jumping in Australia and so many more. For an instant, I envied this girl her freedom, her ability to travel wherever her heart desired. Glancing back at her however, I acknowledged that I’d come to appreciate a certain standard of living and that, with that expectation, came responsibility. So I returned what I hoped was a rather disarming smile to which she had the good grace to reciprocate. Still, it set me thinking and, despite my backpack being safely stored on the undercarriage of the bus, I realized that in my own eyes anyway, I could no longer be considered a member of the ‘backpacker crew’ and, quite frankly, had not been for some time. Now, I am not saying that I am no longer a traveller at heart as I am, without a shadow of a doubt, at my happiest when heading off to some new destination or revisiting a place that I have previously fallen in love with. I also do not mean to infer, just because I’d had this thought and felt like I no longer identified with the backpacker scene, that others in their thirties, forties or even their fifties do not still identify with this type of traveller.
A rickety shack will no longer cut it
It’s funny though, the things we settle for and are excited about in our twenties would not necessarily be acceptable by the time we reach our thirties. I guess that is a reflection of how we evolve in our personal lives and is simply mirrored in our travel choices. I would probably be a lot more reticent nowadays about staying in a place that cost a couple of dollars a night, with no running water and very questionable bed sheets, yet was content enough to do that eight years ago when on a tight budget and simply out to see the world. I recognize that my life has changed and so I now have a certain degree of flexibility as to where I stay. Saying this, I would not change for one single second any of those past experiences like showering in salt water next to vibrant green frogs on remote Indonesian islands, frequently jamming my backpack against the bedroom door for extra security, my money belt tucked safely under my head as I slept. Or having no idea what was scuttling across the barren thatched roof but praying that it was not a giant spider! Admittedly, now when I head to a paradise island, I prefer there to be several stars attached to where I’m staying, alongside spa facilities and dedicated customer service. However, the memories of eating roti and curry sauce every day for breakfast, using band aids to repair gaping holes in dodgy mosquito nets and riding on the back of motorbike taxis, in the pouring rain, thesourceuae.com
FEATURE with my backpack sandwiched between myself and the driver, still bring a warm smile to my face. My friends all know how crazy I am about music and there is a line in a song by Tiesto, one of my favorite DJ’s, that says “travelling somewhere, could be anywhere” and that’s exactly how I feel about travel. Still, to this day, I get a rush of excitement and anticipation whenever I set off on a journey so that even though my outwardly appearance may have changed and perhaps even my tastes, the desire and thirst to reach new destinations has not left me and I hope it never does. What I do know for sure though is that I am excited for what the coming decades of my life may offer in terms of travel. For my fortieth birthday, I plan to skydive over Mount Everest. I want to cruise the Norwegian Fjords, witness the Aurora Borealis in Iceland, dance salsa in Cuba, go ice fishing in Alaska and so much more. I love the idea of reaching retirement age and driving a mobile home from Canada through the USA into Central and South America, side by side with my illusive husband to be, who has thus far managed to avoid me. But, when I do find him, we’ll have matching bikes, sandals and rain coats for our old age adventures as I may no longer be a backpacker, but I’ll always be a traveller at heart.
“When I do find him, we’ll have matching bikes, sandals and rain coats for our old age adventures”
By Farid Nouisser
Welcome to the City of Toronto. My biggest challenge writing this article was how to tell soooo much in such a small space. The City of Toronto is the largest city in Canada, situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario and boasting a diverse population of approximately 2.7 million souls. Its metropolitan area has more than 5.5 million residents and is the fifth most populous city in North America. This is Canada’s commercial capital and one of the leading financial centers in the world. It is, incidentally, also my home and while I’m a big fan of my new surroundings in Al Ain, it gives me a great sense of pride to recommend this city to anyone with a zest for travel and a hunger to experience North America at its finest. Just like the UAE, Toronto is a cultural mosaic with approximately 49 per cent of inhabitants born outside the country. This creates an incredible tapestry of multicultural events and festivals. For those with an affinity for dining, Toronto will impress anyone with its selection of more than 2000 restaurants to tantalize your
Sofa Set 3+2+1(Dark Brown & Light Brown)
king Size Bed (Black & Brown)
taste buds. If you are a fan of the arts, then Toronto will welcome you with a theatre district, rivaled only by New York City and London, as well as some of the finest art galleries and museums in North America. The city is an incredibly green metropolis, littered with parks and surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest collection of fresh water on the planet. If the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much for you, then why not take a trip into the northern regions of the province of Ontario where you can relax and enjoy nature like never before on the peaceful shores of one of more than 250000 breathtaking lakes that adorn the province. What we wouldn’t give here in the UAE for just a fraction of this abundant water resource! Although summer is upon us, making this an ideal time to visit Toronto, I would strongly recommend a view of Northern Ontario during the autumn months, as the colors of the many deciduous forests are sure to leave you in awe. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively in my life and have had the pleasure of seeing so much of what this great planet has to offer but, I’d be less than honest if I did not take this opportunity to encourage everyone to make the trek to one of the greatest cities, in one of the loveliest regions, of one of the best countries in the world. Welcome to the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, in the country of Canada. My home and native land!
Sofa Bed 3+2+1(Red, Grey, Black, Brown)
Leather Sofa Set 3+2+1
A Hidden Gem, Right on our Doorstep By Mehak Alam
According to Lonely Planet, Muscat, the capital of Oman is the second top city to visit in 2012, coming in only after Olympic hosts London. Muscat truly is beautiful yet; a hidden gem in the Omani landscape, not known to many and certainly not renowned enough to feature in ‘Lonely Planet’ is Ibri. With stunning natural beauty and decidedly friendly locals, Ibri is the place to go if you fancy a weekend to escape the rat race. The fact that its only 130km’s from the Al Ain/Omani border is just an added bonus.
A gift from Mother Nature
will delight you with their ancient folk tales and historical stories laced with typical Omani humor making for a highly interesting afternoon. Nature lovers should be sure to visit Wadi Dham whose marvelous scenes are best explored on foot. The mysterious wadi, dark caves and primeval trees create a truly enticing atmosphere. Beyond the wadi, lies the mountain town of Hajeermat and the stunning Hawra Marble Mountain, so beautiful that it is locally thought to be a true gift from god. Literally on our doorstep, why not head off to discover the wonders of the spectacular heritage hub of Ibri for yourself.
Ibri, with its historical forts and castles, huge mountainous regions and stunning landscapes is the perfect change of scenery. While there, be sure to head to the world heritage site of Bat, the second archeological site to be classified by UNSESCO on the list of world heritage and culture sights. The graves are scattered at the foot of the impressive limestone Jebel Misht. In Arabic, Jebel Misht means “Comb Mountain” and the mountain’s majestic cliff certainly resembles a gigantic comb, silently resting at the heart of the Al Akhdar Range. With a height of over 1000 meters, it’s the perfect place for an adventurous spot of rock climbing. To witness even more history, head to Bahla Fort, another UNESCO site, built during the 13th and 14th centuries and a stunning example of a typical Omani fortress. The tour guides
By Limi Mariam Mathews
As the plane touches down on the runway, I strain to get a glimpse of the leaning trunks of the coconut trees. From the beautiful coastal plains, the land expands inwards creating a magnificent view that you think would only exist in your imagination. It’s an eye-opening scene for a girl like me who has taken off from a heat-stricken desert wilderness. It feels like I’m stepping into a land of paradise and somehow, even though it’s the umpteenth time, it always feels like the first.
add to the treasury of nature’s presents. With pretty little houseboats, built in the traditional manner, your stay will feel like a home from home. Another feature I have to mention is the sheer silence of the place. It’s no wonder that people travel here for Ayurveda treatments. The serene and cool atmosphere all the while helping them to find an outlet for their bottled up emotions. The hospitality and caring nature of the locals are not to be forgotten, with everyone going out of their way to make visitors welcome.
The breath of the moist air, the warm drizzle followed by the cool breeze, represents a silent welcome from Mother Nature to come and explore Kerala’s inner beauty, famed for its beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries. One of the most amazing sights I have come across is the sheer expanse of different types of exotic plants and fruit grown there. Being a dedicated nature lover, I am easily drawn to such gifts, not to forget about the distinctive types of birds and animals here, every morning you wake up to a different chirping in the air. When you observe a place such as Kerala, you’ll believe that nature has cast its own magical spell over the whole land. In return, Kerala proudly embraces and nourishes Mother Nature and her offerings.
My venture through the woods of Vayanad was a hugely memorable experience, with various birds and animals frolicking in the shade of the magnificent trees sprouting from the damp soil. What astounds me is that all these sights are entirely natural, not a man-made structure in sight. Kerala has taken an active initiative in preserving its natural beauty. Blessed with the Vembanad Lake which is fed by no less than ten rivers, Shankhumukham Beach in Trivandrum, where the astonishing sunsets have left me dumbfounded, and many more, it certainly is a place of natural beauty. Such abundance of nature has left the land bountiful and, if you are lucky enough to visit, make sure you sample the natural coconut water and the delicious jackfruit.
Kerala was the first state in India to make tourism an industry. There are numerous tourist spots, guaranteed to spellbind visitors with their natural beauty. The backwaters of Kerala
I am proud to have been born in such a wonderful land, and can guarantee you that the beauty and nature of Kerala will touch your heart and remain with you as you live the rest of your life.
LEBANON The Pearl of The Middle East By Ghulmiyyah Ghulmiyyah
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to begin our final descent to Rafik Hariri International Airport. Mesdames et Messieurs, nous sommes sur le point de commencer notre descente finale vers l’Aéroport International Rafik Hariri. Sayyidati wa sadati, nahnu ala washak al bad’ b’amaliyat al huboot ila mataar Rafik Al Hariri al doowaly.”
the small city, with a warm heart
By Roekshana Saloojee
ften the end of one’s vacation provides a chance encounter with a local who pours his heart out, revealing treasures of his city absent on the tourist trail. So lovingly, he describes the nooks and crannies, the bakery around the corner, the flower seller behind the station and the ancient carousel hidden in an alleyway. That’s when you wish for just a few more days to explore life beyond the tourist trap. As fate would have it, my sojourn in Geneva extended beyond just a lucky week or two. I had four years to explore the city and its surroundings through the glazed eyes of a tourist before being whisked home to southern skies.
Geneva welcomes its visitors with open arms, not a pedestrian goes by without a friendly “Bonjour!” Easy to fathom, the ever punctual public transport has many options - trains, trams, buses and boats. Alternatively, hire a bicycle from Genéve Roule at the lake or their shop behind the Cornavin Station. Cycling is an ideal way to take in the sights around the lake while enjoying the fresh air and smiling at the calls of the resident swans. Pedal across the Mont-Blanc Bridge to the Jardin Anglais. It’s a famous flower clock, symbolising Geneva as the birthplace of Switzerland’s watch industry. Speaking of time, a visit to the Patek Phillipe watch museum is time well spent! Parc Mon Repos houses the Science Museum with its outdoor exhibits that enthral both young and old alike. Close by, the Perle du Lac offers unhindered views of the lake to enjoy a spot of lunch sampling perche, the local delicacy. Impossible to miss, the touristic symbol of Geneva, the Jet d’eau, shoots 500 litres of water every second to a towering 140 meters in height. Catch a Mouette Genevoise (or a Swiss boat), across the lake to view the plane trees and the rose garden or plunge into Lac Leman for a refreshing swim at Bain de Paquis. The balmy summer months see the lawns around the lake buzzing with activity - a patchwork of picnic blankets, families, impromptu concerts, roller bladers and baby strollers. End the day at the outdoor Orange Cinema, a popular summer evening attraction where you can view a classic film literally on the shore of the lake! The Jardin Botanique is a tranquil escape from the bustle around the lake, and has a restaurant highly frequented for its light lunches. A bus ride away is the United Nations precinct, where 14
I won’t lie, the following 45 minutes or so, as you drive towards Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, are likely to be up there on your worst experiences-ever list. But trust me, it’s worth it for what is about to ensue… most of the 200 international organisations based in Geneva can be found. Stroll through the surrounding gardens, Parc de l’Ariana, where you’ll find an unassuming statue of Mahatma Ghandi. Across the road, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum regularly stage poignant exhibitions of humanitarian interest. A landmark at the Place des Nations, is the giant wooden chair, its broken leg a constant reminder of the victims of land mine explosions. No one protests succumbing to the temptation of the water fountains playfully dancing on the square. Kick off your shoes and delight in the pleasure! Escape to the old town of Geneva. Wander through the pedestrian zones, browsing antique shops, art galleries and intimate restaurants. Avid runners can join the winter Escalade, a historic race for runners of all ages that winds its way through the streets of the old town. St. Peter’s Cathedral, at the top of the hill, has a 157-step circular staircase that winds its way up the North Tower where you can enjoy a spellbinding panoramic view. The terrace at the back of City Hall has a perfect view of Mont-Salève and the Jura. Equally charming municipalities worth a visit are Carouge, Eaux Vives, Annemasse and Coppet. Don’t miss the chocolate festival in Versoix and, while you’re there, pop into the famous Favager for a tour of their chocolaterie, nothing but delicious! Farmer’s markets across the city overflowing with fresh produce, artisanal breads, cheeses and other dairy delights are a wonderful way to sample local cuisine. Not to be missed are the markets in Ferney-Voltaire and Divonne just across the border. The Divonne market has a fabulous seafood selection, including an oyster bar for a spot of mid-morning indulgence! Another favourite eatery, sure to tickle the taste buds, is Ali Hyder Kebaab on Rue de Laussanne!
When people talk about Lebanon, they chat about the incomparable nightlife, delicious food and ridiculously crazy beach parties that last from dusk till dawn. True, these do exist. And true, they are a lot of fun. But visiting the country for yourself, you’ll come to learn that it’s not all about that. Depending on how long your trip is, and how adventurous you plan to be, there is quite a lot to see and do in this 10,452km2 country. I’d advise you to start your trip with a visit to what is literally the heart of Lebanon, The Lebanese Cedars. From Beirut, the drive could take up to three hours depending on the traffic but it’s a stunning trip. Taking the beach road, you’ll be greeted with spectacular views of bright blue Mediterranean waters to your left and the green grand Mount of Lebanon on your right. Travelling further into the mountains, will bring you to an area called Bcharré, high enough to be above the clouds, evading the pollution of the city and the torturous traffic. Here you will find the only remaining original Cedars of Lebanon, preserved by the Lebanese Government and absolutely stunning. With some of the trees being over 40000 years old and growing to around 40 metres high, it’s a definite must do on your trip. It’s also the birthplace of the famous poet,
painter and sculptor Gibran Khalil Gibran, who has an honorary museum in the town. On your way back from Bcharre, I’d advise you to stop by one of the oldest cities known to man, Byblos. Here you can enjoy some fantastic seafood while overlooking the historic Crusader Fort. Stroll into the Byblos Wax Museum to see statues and life scenes of the Phoenician era brought to life with uncanny likeness. If you happen to be travelling in April, May or June, then you’ll be lucky enough to experience the best of the both worlds that Lebanon has to offer. Spend the morning enjoying some winter fun in Farayyah before heading back down the mountain to soak up some rays on the beach or frolic in the ocean. La Plage Beach Resort is one of the best spots to enjoy some Lebanese food, have a few drinks and take in a spectacular sunset. In the evening, head over to Gemmayze Street for an unforgettable night out. Downtown Beirut is the place to go for indulgent shopping in the seven-times-renovated City Centre. Here, you can also glimpse at what is left of the ancient city as a result of the long standing civil-war, just to get a feel of what Lebanon has been through and where the country stands today. Last but not least on your visit to the pearl of the Middle East is the unreal Jeita Grotto. With its underground caverns, dangling limestone formations and swirling waterfalls, I like to call it the guts of Lebanon. The hardest part of your journey is definitely going to be trying to leave. Somehow, the country oh so easily gets under your skin, clings to you and forces you to fall in love with its chaos, its beauty and its utter paradoxes.
Venture a little further with a trip to neighbouring Jura. Its breathtaking views of Mont Blanc on a clear day, endless ski slopes in winter and energetic mountain trails satisfy the sporty side of you. A short train ride away, even the fringe shows at the Montreaux Jazz festival provide a blast of entertainment to rival the main stages. Never a dull moment! Go on; add Geneva to your list of places to see. It’s a small city with the warmth of a friendly village, ready to share all its treasures with you.
Stunning Stockholm By Asa Smith
Each summer, my family and I visit Stockholm. And, each year, there are certain things that we have to do, things that I remember from when I lived there as a child, things that I want my children to learn to love as much as I do. Our first priority is eating traditional Swedish Princess cake, a delicious sponge cake covered in bright green marzipan and decorated with a bright pink edible rose. Our next mission is to spend as much time outside as possible. Swedes love the outdoors. They run, ride, rollerblade, swim, ski, sail, walk, picnic and more in the beautiful parks spread around Stockholm. Public transport is readily available, so it is very easy to get around. Add to this, that most parks are actually within walking distance and getting outdoors becomes hassle free. Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan, is an enchanting area with beautiful old buildings and cobblestoned narrow lanes. Don’t miss the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. This is a lovely area to wander around boasting small market squares, little shops and delightful cafes. During summer it can get very busy with tourists, but you can easily avoid the crowds by ducking into the alleys and lanes for a quieter bite to eat. The Nobel Museum is in Gamla Stan, and is an interesting choice if you have older children. Next stop within Stockholm is Djurgarden. From the town center, you can get there by ferry, bus, tram or even choose to walk. On the island is Skansen, founded in 1891, a large open-air museum showing traditional ways of life in Scandinavia. It also has a Nordic zoo with native wildlife. This is a very popular place with kids, and you can easily spend all day there. Djurgarden also has Grona Lund, which is a fun park for the whole family to enjoy. Another option is to hire some bicycles, go for a ride and explore the island. Skeppsholmen is another island very close to the city centre and, again, it’s accessible by walking, bus, or bicycle. If you walk right to the end of the island, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view across the water and over to Grona Land. This is a lovely spot to have a picnic and relax in the sun. Also on the island is the Modern Museum and the Museum of Architecture, fascinating 16
for adults but probably not so exciting for younger children! For a change of pace, take a walk around Sodermalm, an old working class suburb that is now the coolest place in Stockholm to live. Full of design studios, art galleries, trendy cafés and bars the area oozes modernity. Climb the wooden stairs up the cliffs behind Katarinahissen (an old lift from the 1930’s) to get a fantastic view over Stockholm. My favorite place to wander in summer is Ladugardsgardet Park, perfect for searching for berries growing by the path. This park is part of Ekoparken, a vast 27km2 national park. To get there, hop on the number 69 bus until the very last stop and have a break at the café right by the edge of the water. From here, either wander back along the canal or through the riding/walking trails. This is a very large park but you can always catch the bus back again if you get tired. My son’s favorite museum is located in this park, the Museum of Science and Technology, with lots of hands on fun for kids of all ages. Depending on how much time you have, a great family trip to take is to the islands of Stockholm’s archipelago, of which there are around 24,000. You can buy a five day pass giving you unlimited boat rides to many of the various islands. On some of these, you can very cheaply stay in the youth hostels, but be sure to book early as they fill up quickly. There are many cruises and trips that you can partake in, of varying lengths. Visit Skargarden, a new information centre by the ferry harbor, for advice and bookings. If you have children who are interested in the mighty Vikings, I can highly recommend the trip to Birka, an island only accessible by boat. This is a UNESCO listed site and was a Viking trading centre. Take a picnic with you, sit with the birds and the black woolly sheep and enjoy the view. This trip takes a full day and includes a guided tour of the area where you’ll learn lots about the ancient Norse explorers. This is just a small selection of the outdoor options available in Stockholm and I’m sure there are plenty of places that we have still to discover. That’s the beauty of Sweden, there’s always more to see and do and I can’t wait for our trip there next year! thesourceuae.com
@ THE MOVIES
CALENDAR OF EVENTS MAY 16th
Lulu Kuwaitat Summer Promotion
Bawadi Mall Fashion Show
Lulu Kuwaitat is the only Lulu Centre to be running this glittering summer promotion. Starting on May 16th and running until June 13th, shoppers will receive a raffle coupon to the daily draw in which three winners will each receive a 4g gold coin. 90 gold coins will be given away in just 30 days, so get down to Lulu to try your luck. Time: daily 8am - midnight.
Bawadi Mall is hosting a fabulous fashion show every Thursday and Friday, starting 17 May until 1 June, 2012. The fashion show features the hottest collections from the biggest brands, something that every fashionista will look forward to. Admission: Free. For more information call 03 784 0000
The Gleek Show
Festival Square at Dubai Festival City is hosting The Gleek Mania running from 17-26 May. A musical tribute to the hit fox series 'Glee', visitors can enjoy some energetic dance routines and superb live vocals. Admission: Free. Time: 6-7:30pm Saturday - Wednesday and 7:30-9:30pm Thursday & Friday. For more information call 04 208 5261 or visit www.festivalcentre.com
Al Foah Mall offers school and college students of Al Ain a great way to enjoy their day. While spending AED 30 at any retail outlet in Al Foah Mall students will receive a voucher to enjoy unbelievable discounts at Sparkeys Family Fun Park, Oscar Cinemas, Taj Spice Restaurant, Zinger Hut Restaurant, Chicking and Fruitariano Restaurant. Duration: 15th May 15th August. For more information call 03 7041010
Champions League on the Big Screen
Steak n’ BBQ Night
The Garden at Danat Al Ain Resort gives you a chance to come and enjoy the big game on the big screen as Chelsea take on Bayern Munich in this nail biting final. Fans will also have the chance to win dinner for the evening, by winning the score predictor competition. Admission: Free. For more information call 03 704 6000
Every Monday night, Zest at Al Ain Rotana offers a night dedicated to Steak and BBQ lovers where one can enjoy a mouthwatering array of steaks and cuts. Choose your favorite and watch as it's grilled before your eyes just the way you like it. Buffet starts at AED158 per person. Time: 6:30-10:30pm. For more information call 03 754 5111 or email at email@example.com
Seafood Lovers Night
Every Thursday, Ayla Hotel offers a delightful array of delicacies from the sea. Enjoy dinner and relax to the accompaniment of live Oud music. Buffet starts at AED 159 per person, with a small bottle of non-alcoholic champagne. Time: 7-11pm. For more information call: 03 761 011.
Al Rikab Restaurant at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club hosts the Lebanese Night every Thursday where you can bring your family and friends to experience the best Lebanese food coupled with Arabian hospitality. A belly dancer and lively Lebanese band will keep you entertained. Buffet starts at AED 150 per person. Time: 10pm-3am. For more information call 03 702 6446.
Storyline Johnny Depp stars in this gothic comedy horror as Barnabas Collins, a rich, powerful, player who has the world at his feet thanks to his parents’ successful fishing empire. That is, until he meets Josette and falls madly in love, breaking the heart of witch Angelique in the process who sends him to a fate worse than death; turning him into a vampire and burying him alive. Now, 200 years later, Barnabas has freed himself and is back for revenge. Cue a lot of laughs, some dramatic romance and an entirely dysfunctional family, and Tim Burton has directed himself a sure to be hit blockbuster.
Movie Listings GRAND BAWADI, BAWADI MALL, AL AIN Tel: +971 3 784 0300 OSCAR CINEMA, AL FOAH MALL, Al AIN Tel: +971 3 784 3535 1. DARK SHADOWS: 10:00, 12:20, 14:40, 17:00, 19:20, 21:40, 24:00 2. THE AVENGERS: 12:15, 15:00, 17:45, 20:30, 23:15 3. WINX CLUB: A MAGICAL ADVENTURE (3D): 10:45, 12:30, 14:15, 16:00, 17:45, 19:30 3. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS: 21:15, 23:15 4. REKLAM (ARABIC): 10:00, 12:20, 14:40, 17:00, 19:20, 21:40, 24:00 5. THE MOTH DIARIES: 11:30, 13:15, 15:00, 16:45, 18:30, 20:15, 22:00, 23:30
ROTANA HOTEL, ZAYED IBN SULTAN St., AL AIN Tel: +971 3 754 4447 1. CABIN IN THE WOODS: 11:00, 13:10, 15:20, 17:30, 19:40, 21:50, 24:00 2. THE AVENGERS: 10:15, 13:00, 15:45, 18:30, 21:15, 24:00 3. FIVE YEAR ENGAGMENT: 11:15, 13:45, 16:15, 18:45, 21:15, 23:45 4. THE LORAX: 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 4. REKLAM (ARABIC): 17:00, 19:20, 21:40, 24:00
1. DARK SHADOWS: 10:30, 12:45, 15:00, 17:15, 19:30, 21:45, 24:00 2. DEPARTMENT (HINDI):10:30, 13:00, 15:30, 18:00, 20:30, 23:00 3. WINX CLUB: MAGICAL ADVENTURE (3D): 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 3. THE AVENGERS: (3D): 20:15, 23:00 4. CABIN IN THE WOODS:11:00, 15:30, 19:40, 24:00 4. FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT:13:00, 17:30, 21:30 5. POWDER BLUE: 11:00, 16:30, 21:00 5. ISHAQ ZAADE (HINDI): 14:00, 18:30, 23:30 6. BEL AMI: 13:10, 17:30, 21:50 6. THE MOTH DIARIES: 11:00, 15:20, 19:40, 24:00 7. THE AVENGERS: 10:15, 13:00, 15:45, 18:30, 21:15, 24:00 GRAND CLASS: DARK SHADOWS: 13:45, 16:00, 18:15, 20:30, 23:00
GRAND AL AIN CINEPLEX AL AIN MALL, AL AIN Tel: +971 3 751 1228 1. DARK SHADOWS:10:30, 12:45, 15:00, 17:15, 19:30, 21:45, 24:00 2. THE AVENGERS:10:15, 13:00, 15:45, 18:30, 21:15, 24:00 3. WINX CLUB:MAGICAL ADVENTURE (3D):10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 3. CABIN IN THE WOODS: 20:00, 22:00, 24:00 4. THE MOTH DIARIES:11:00, 15:20, 19:40, 24:00 4 . BEL AMI: 13:10, 17:30, 21:50
The movie listings are valid from Thursday to Wednesday every week.
Camp Nou - Europe’s largest football stadium
Barcelona the city of surprises
a quaint blue tram and then, continuing the adventure, on the brightly painted, rickety funicular (a combination of railway and cable car) that majestically - though rather slowly - crawls to the summit. The scent of pine trees waft through the air as we disembark only to discover a neo-Gothic church and, amazingly, a fun fair dating all the way back to 1889!
By Rosaline Skirka
arcelona. What is it that draws me to this city, urging me to visit again and again? Perhaps it is the appeal of Las Ramblas, the famous tree-lined pedestrian boulevard which cuts through the heart of the city and houses a myriad of stalls, restaurants and street performers. A place where elaborate ‘statues’ surprisingly spring to life; a perfect spot for people watching over a coffee as tourists and locals meander past until the early hours of the morning. Maybe it is Gaudi’s striking architecture. The construction of one of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions, the Sagrada Família with its iconic spires, commenced in 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2030. It’s an immensely stunning building and well worth a visit yet, even when I don’t have time to join the cathedral’s endless queues of tourists, I stumble across many fine examples of Gaudi’s architecture on unexpected street corners, the originality and sheer imagination of his work sometimes stopping me, quite literally, in my tracks. Could it be the food? From restaurants such as the modernist “Els Quatre Gats” - frequented in their day by Dali and Picasso - to tiny backstreet eateries where expectations may be low but quality and value are extremely high. Sampling some traditional Spanish tapas or Catalan classics such as Fideuas, delicious seafood paella served with short noodles rather than rice, is the perfect evening meal.
Possibly it is the lure of the Camp Nou, the largest football stadium in Europe and the home of the mighty Futbol Club Barcelona. A visit to the stadium’s museum is always worth a trip to see the history of the club unveiled in elaborate exhibition style and to dazzle my eyes with the spectacular silverware on display. Securing a much sought after ticket for one of Barca’s home games results in a mesmerizing 90 minute show from skilled Senors Iniesta, Alves and Messi. On one particular visit to the Camp Nou, my husband and I stopped to allow a red sports car to exit the stadium; the driver politely waved his thanks. It was none other than Lionel Messi! Barcelona is indeed full of surprises! Perhaps it is the appeal of Barcelona’s beaches with an unlikely 4.2 km of golden sand only ten minutes from the city centre. Barceloneta beach, which can be easily reached via the metro system, is the busiest and most popular of the city’s beaches which are all clean, well maintained and offer the chance to indulge in a refreshing swim after a hard day’s sightseeing. Unfortunately the beaches also offer unwelcome surprise - bag snatchers! But that’s a small hindrance to deal with in a city of such charm. But no, it is the people of Barcelona who draw me to this city like a child drawn to a sweet shop. While it’s true that you have to keep your wits about you when it comes to scams designed to rob you of your possessions, this is the exception rather than the rule. Ordinary Barcelonians are people through and through. They smile, they laugh and, most of all, they talk! Many of them speak English but beam with delight when I, rather shyly, try out my schoolgirl Spanish. The people of Barcelona are justly proud of their beautiful city, and welcome us back time and again with open arms and smiling faces. This, paradoxically, is no surprise.
Gaudi’s work is dotted all over the city
Maybe I am drawn to Barcelona by the splendid views over the city. Ascending Tibidabo Mountain, first perched on small wooden seats inside
Sharm El Sheikh undiscovered adventure
By Hanadi Jamil
gypt. As you read the word, you conjure images of Cleopatra showing off her beauty, of snakes of the Nile hissing ferociously, of Pharaohs wandering, of mummies encapsulated in the magnificent Pyramids of Giza. By all means, this is Egypt and yet, there is another side to this ancient country. A place popular with people from all over the world and a particular favorite with those hailing from Europe and the Middle East, that place is Sharm El Sheikh. Sharm El Sheikh or ‘Sharm’ as the locals call it, is situated in the Southern tip of The Sinai Peninsula and is the cosmopolitan capital of the governorate of South Sinai boasting many tourist spots, restaurants and hotels clustered on a small stretch of land. The crystal-clear blue water surrounding Sharm is home to more than 170 different types of coral reef and over 1000 species of stunning tropical fish, making the Red Sea Riviera coastal ‘city of peace’ one of the most popular diving destinations in the Eastern hemisphere. Book your ticket to Sharm and choose from one of the countless luxurious hotels in ‘Na’ama Bay’, to be at the heart of the action. Awake in the morning, and climb aboard a boat cruise to the spectacular Ras Mohammed National Park just 30 km south of Sharm. The park became a protected area in 1983 and extends over 480 sq kms. You can enjoy spectacular diving, marvel at Fiddler crabs, jelly fish and many other water creatures in this underwater flora. If diving is not your sport of choice, you can swim, snorkel and simply be awed by the huge mangrove trees. If adrenalin is more your thing, then get ready to try your hand at parasailing, paragliding, wind surfing, jet skiing or banana boating.
After a day in the sun, head back to your hotel, take a nap and get dressed for an evening amble along the pedestrianised streets of Na’ama Bay. Here you can buy Egyptian souvenirs, clothes and trinkets before sitting in one of the many café’s to enjoy a spot of people watching, some delicious shisha and have a chat about the day’s festivities. In the morning, throw on some shorts and a tee-shirt; swaddle a red or black and white ‘kufiya’ on your head and get ready for excitement. Rent a quad bike, buggy, jeep or even a camel and discover the dazzling desert of Sinai and its spectacular mountain surroundings. Don’t forget to cover your mouth and nose with the tip of the ‘kufiya’ and keep your sunglasses on to protect your eyes and nose from the sand blasting across your face. If you love nightlife, joyful Na’ama Bay offers a wide range of international clubs and restaurants, the most popular being Little Buddha, Pacha, and the Hard Rock Cafe, where you can enjoy a drink and a dance until the sun begins to rise again. For a true taste of Arabia, head to Alf Leila Wa Leila restaurant. Named after the folktale in Arabian Nights where King Shahriyar loses faith in women and plans to execute each of them before falling for the beautiful Shahrazed, the restaurant offers nightly theatrical performances of the story alongside authentic Egyptian delicacies and seductive belly dancing entertainment. The white sandy beaches, calming blue seas and colorful mosaic underwater life coupled with the bustling shops and restaurants and jam-packed, beat thumping clubs make the exquisite Sharm El Sheikh an ideal choice whether you’re searching for total relaxation or adrenalin filled fun.
Off the Beaten Track –
Exploring South Africa’s Treasures By Roekshama Saloojee
Tantalising Turkey By Narmeen Al Assaad
A recent weekend getaway to my hometown of Port Elizabeth, reminded me of the endless beauty and diversity that is the land of South Africa. It got me thinking that visitors are often only guided to the popular attractions of the big cities and wellknown game reserves, hardly ever getting the chance to venture off to explore the other hidden treasures that our country has to offer. Admittedly, this is now beginning to change, thanks to events like the 2010 World Cup which helped open the world’s eyes to the hidden bounty that we so much want to share. Port Elizabeth, for example, the economic hub of the Eastern Cape, is easily accessible from all South African international airports. Deservedly known as the “friendly city,” it boasts magnificent beaches, rich colonial architecture and what’s more, serves as the gateway from which you can explore the diversity of the Eastern Cape region. Steeped in history and charm, Grahamstown, a little further inland, plays host to the annual National Arts Festival, which features a myriad of local creative talent. Festival goers are treated to a plethora of performance, ranging from anything from an Athol Fugard play or African opera, to buskers on street corners and impromptu performances wherever a budding artist happens to find an appreciative audience. A word of caution for anyone thinking of attending, visit the festival website as far in advance as possible to book tickets for your peek at South African arts and culture. Otherwise, you could find yourself severely disappointed and walking away empty handed after spending hours in a winding queue! At the other end of the spectrum, the Eastern Cape sustains a surprising variety of wildlife. The Addo Elephant National Park is home to growing elephant herds which once roamed freely across the country. I remember, as a child, keeping one eye on these magnificent giants and one eye on the dusty road ahead to warn my dad should one of the park’s little treasures, the dung beetle, roll its find across the road, straight into the path of certain death! Among the private sanctuaries of the region is the award winning Shamwari Reserve where one can see the elusive safari ‘Big 5’ and many other high profile animals on a wildlife trip of a lifetime. 24
A road trip through the rugged Baviaanskloof (baboon’s ravine) area reveals the stunning beauty of this protected land, home to many rare plants and some 58 mammal species, including the beautiful Cape mountain zebra. If breathtaking scenery is what you’re after, the north-western area of the Eastern Cape is where one can contemplate the lonely wastes of the Great Karoo, while casting an eye over the Valley of Desolation. The valley overlooks the historic town of Graaf-Reinet, boundless and mysterious and beautifully surrounded by mountains stretching upwards as if to touch a perfect indigo sky. A sister to the Eastern Cape, the renowned Garden Route, stretches westward over miles of exquisite fauna, flora and unspoilt beaches. The Garden Route is an endless nature lover’s paradise and one is spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring its splendour. Experience it from the dizzy heights of the Paul Sauer Bridge or hiking on terra firma, following the Otter Trail through the Tsitsikamma National Park, a sanctuary for forest, ferns, heath, wild orchards and lilies. As for wildlife, you’ll see baboons, bushbuck, Cape clawless otters and nearly 300 different kinds of birds! Situated along the coast, the park is also a marine reserve where rock pools teem with colourful aquatic life, whales and dolphins frolic offshore and the Storms River surges through a deep gorge into the warm Indian Ocean. Plettenberg Bay, with its iconic landmark hotel jutting into the sea, is one of many seaside towns sporting sunshine almost all year round giving visitors the chance to enjoy the surrounding pristine beaches. Another charming little town is Knysna, famed for its lagoon, surrounding hill-and-forest countryside and its sea entrance guarded by two sandstone cliffs known as ‘The Heads’. Knysna has a vibrant waterfront where one can cruise on anything from a luxury yacht to a simple paddle boat, try their hand at waterskiing and fishing or just relax at one of several fine restaurants, soaking up the ambience of this little hidden gem. South Africa is a vast country, as rich in contrast and heritage, as it is in geography. It’s impossible to cover the whole country in one article so let’s save the remainder for another adventure, coming up in the not too distant future.
Turkey is a country full of history and is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of the Middle East. A melting pot of nationalities, packed with stunning natural sights and impressive man-made structures, it truly is a fascinating place to visit. With influences from the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic World and Europe fusing together to touch the country’s music, art and literature, the country has some truly unique offerings. Turkey is one of only six countries in the world that border two continents, namely Europe and Asia. Thus visitors to the area are diverse. Istanbul, the home of the Blue Mosque, is the most popular tourist city, followed closely by the sea resort of Antalya and the port city of Bodrum. Istanbul is a city of ancient charm and modern twists. Istiklal Avenue, an eclectic pedestrian only shopping street, is visited by almost 6 million people every weekend. With traditional bookstores, quaint cafés, art galleries and delicious patisseries, a stroll down this avenue is a treat for the senses. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, famously nicknamed ‘The Blue Mosque’, draws scores of visitors every day. It is one of the most beautiful mosques in existence, famed for its
unique blue tiling and was constructed way back in 1609. The nearby Miniaturk Park, contains 105 scale models of historical buildings and sites both from Turkey and further afield and is a fascinating place to wander around while enjoying some fresh air. When it comes to eating, a visit to Eminonu District is a must to sample the famous grilled fish of the area. For breakfast, be sure to try Simit, scrumptious circular bread dotted with sesame seeds and served with jam and cheese. Antalya is the most popular coastal resort in Turkey and is fondly called the ‘Turkish Riviera’. It’s the number one destination for sun and sea lovers and ideal for anyone looking for a little bit of luxury. Sailing and water-skiing are popular marine based activities whilst mountain climbing and exploring the ‘Karain Cavern’, which dates way back to the early Paleolithic age, are fun-filled land based exploits. You can enjoy some fresh air at Ataturk or Karaalioglu Parks, and bask among the lush greenery and some very rare flowering plants. Every September, Antalya hosts the Golden Orange Film Festival and draws participants from all over the world.
Bodrum is a small port city, with a beautiful harbor which has gained the reputation as the Monte Carlo of the Aegean with buzzing marina-side restaurants and fantastic yachts moored here in summer months. Shops are open 24/7 and the city has a reputation as a bit of a party town that never sleeps. It hosts some popular annual events and is a fantastic place to be during Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. The city is ancient and elegant at the same time. One of its most famous tourist attractions is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, a massive ancient royal tomb. The tomb was created by four outstanding Greek sculptors and considered to be so eyecatching that it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Castle of St Peter has also become something of an iconic symbol of the city, built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1402, the castle boasts some interesting architecture and exhibits as well as offering some lovely views of the city. Think of Turkey as the traditional Arabian meze. A country piled high with delicious treats, some unexpected samplers and an overall feast for the senses.
Cash or Credit? You’ve picked the destination, packed your suitcase and are almost set to take to the skies. One thing left to do, sort out your travel cash. The question is, should you take cash, credit or debit card or travellers checks? There are pros and cons for each option, and I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. Let’s take a closer look.
Carrying cash is an attractive option because it is convenient. Exchanging money is a straightforward process and, in some places, where ATMs are scarce, it is understandable that you would want to carry cash. The downside, however, is that carrying around large amounts of cash can be risky. If, God forbid, you are robbed or even simply lose the money you have on you, there is nothing you can do. It’s gone without a trace. Another disadvantage of opting to take cash is that your exchange rate will be retail, which is always going to be that bit more expensive than wholesale. No matter where you go to do the exchange, the exchanger is going to want to take a little piece and put it into his or her pocket. Banks are usually your best options; they will typically offer the best rates but be sure to check rates daily in the run up to the trip, so that you can tell if you’re getting a fair price. Also ask if there is a currency conversion fee associated with the exchange as sometimes there is and it’s not listed on the rates board.
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Credit cards are usually the best option as the currency conversion is usually at wholesale rate, rather than retail which you’d be expected to pay if you chose to exchange money at the airport, hotel, or bank. Credit cards also offer the same level of security internationally as you would expect domestically meaning that, if your card is lost or stolen, you can cancel the card immediately, protecting you from theft. The downside is that some card issuers will charge you a currency conversion fee for using your card abroad which can be as high as 3%.
Credit cards are great but not everywhere you go will accept them. Thus, your next best option is to withdraw cash from a local ATM. You get the benefit of exchanging money at the wholesale rate with the flexibility of using the local currency; the only downside is that you’ll probably be socked with an ATM fee. Debit cards also have the same security as credit cards meaning that they can be cancelled at a moment’s notice and, if any illegal spending has occurred while the card was not in your possession, you can request that the bank refunds this to your account. Another downside however is that, depending on your destination, there may not be many ATMs that work with your card. Generally, if you are travelling to a developed country, you will have easy access to ATMs in urban areas. If you are travelling to a less developed country, you should find out before you go about access to ATM machines.
Like cash but with some added security features, checks are expensive options and only available on a limited basis as many places will no longer cash them. The main reason traveller’s checks are used is because they provide a certain level of insurance. You can take a note of the serial number on the back of each check to trace them if they are stolen and you can get your money back if you do not use all the checks. Although travellers checks used to be the preferred option, the rates on debit and credit cards have come down so much that checks are now becoming somewhat obsolete.
All in all, remember that all we’re really talking about is a couple of percentage point differences between each option so it might not matter terribly. However, it’s always a good idea to know what options are available just in case you come across some kind of unexpected financial situation on your travels. Should you pull out a credit card or use the cash you have? Should you hit up an ATM or convert some money from USD at the airport? The difference between these options will often be minimal but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be smart about it.
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The Source is a FREE, bi-lingual (English & Arabic) weekly magazine. Al Ain's first weekly magazine. Bringing you what's happening, before...
Published on May 16, 2012
The Source is a FREE, bi-lingual (English & Arabic) weekly magazine. Al Ain's first weekly magazine. Bringing you what's happening, before...